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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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AZT, 3TC, and Fortovase Effects
Mar 28, 2002

Dear Doctors,

I have a weird question. I was exposed to HIV on 3/8/02. I have confirmed their status through ELISA testing and Western Blot for HIV-1.

18 hours after exposure, started AZT. About 65 hours after exposire I started 3TC, and about 90 hours after exposure I started Fortovase.

My question deals with sweating. I noticed about 2 days after I started the Fortovase (this would be day 6 after exposure) that I would swaet alot easier. I also notice that when I take the Fortvase, about 30 minutes to an hour later I get really bad heartburn and I get flushed for a bit. This has improved quite a bit as I have now ben on the Fortovase for about 10 days now.

FYI - I am in Nigeria on assignment for the next few months.

So, my question is, is there a place where I can find out about this drug combination and some of the side effects? I have read about the drugs individually, but not as a group.

Or, do you think I was going through ARS 6 days after exposure in spite of PEP treatment. I do know that is not 100. I also had to stagger the drugs due to availibility of them here in country.

Thanks, Concerned and a Long Way from Home

Response from Dr. Henry

A significant fraction of persons starting AZT, 3TC, and Fortovase will experience a number of side effects initially. GI complainst including heartburn are not uncommon when starting AZT. Pertubations in sweating are reported by a small fraction of patients. The symptoms you describe are more likely due to the meds than HIV seroconversion but are still non-specific. Assuming that your exposure was significant then I would recommend attempting to finish as close to 4 weeks of prophylaxis as possible. Follow-up HIV testing is still advisable (perhaps 3 and 6 months). Good-luck. KH

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